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Monday, August 20, 2007

Baby goats
On our walk Saturday evening we visited with our neighbor Becky as she held two baby goat kids born just four days earlier.

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"The Testimony Of God's Kindness"

"Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:17).

Yesterday we had rain all day and even through the night.  We sat outside last evening and watched the gentle, steady rain from our front porch. Expressing thanks to God for His demonstration of kindness came very naturally as we saw vibrant green all about us. The soy beans in the field across the road seemed to be dancing for joy!  We checked the rain gauge this morning and we got over an inch.  This morning as we prepare this message it's still overcast with more rain expected.

The daily text is from an evangelistic appeal the Apostle Paul made in Lystra. Paul and Barnabas had an interesting experience in the unusual form of receptivity expressed by the people.  A crippled man was healed by the power of God.  After a miracle the crowd shouted, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"  They commenced to express worship to Paul and Barnabas and the local pagan priest brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them (Acts 14:8-13).

Paul and Barnabas wasted no time in forcefully and unambiguously setting them straight.  It is clear from the text that Paul and Barnabas were adamant about this, unlike some religious leaders and flamboyant preachers today who seem to delight in being fawned over.  In contrast "when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you." Their response is a rich example of deflecting any human praise to where it rightly belongs … to God alone. 

They continue and explain their mission. "We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, He let all nations go their own way. Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

God has indeed provided a faithful testimony to all people of His kindness; rain, crops, food and hearts filled with joy.  I am particularly intrigued by the last phrase. We often rightly think of joy as a fruit of the Spirit and a characteristic of Christ's life within us and indeed it is.  But even the unredeemed experience the joys of childhood, romantic love, parenthood, etc. 

Thank God for those common expressions of God's grace that rain down from heaven on both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Today I pray that all over the world men and women will have their eyes opened to this testimony of God and take that step of faith to believe and receive the special act of grace leading to salvation!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, You are faithful to supply all our physical needs even as You replenish the earth with fresh moisture from above.  We are showered with Your common grace as You bless us each day with Your abundance of good things.  Thank You for filling us with joy as we walk in step with You.  Amen.

I read that each inch of rain spread over an acre is equal to some 27,000 gallons of water.  That would be more than a million gallons over 40 acres and of course we often get several inches at a time! Yet consider this aspect of what theologians call "common grace" (God's goodness expressed to all people, the redeemed and unredeemed.)  The water is spread over the earth incrementally in drops rather than poured out all at once in one place, as we would empty a bucket.  That to me is another powerful, yet often overlooked, evidence of "intelligent design" that points to our Creator.

Reynold family
Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching in one of the churches I had served as interim pastor last year and meeting many of the friends that we had met there.  We had dinner with Bob and Elaine Reynolds and their son Scott joined us along with his wife Susanne. It's always a joy to see people staying true to the Lord!

Suggested music:
"I Sing The Mighty Power Of God" (audio)

"God Of Wonders" (Video)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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